I have two main passions in life, travels and cars, and Tokyo is one of the top places I know in which I can enjoy both at the same time. Tokyo is huge, Tokyo is exotic (at least from my European point of view), Tokyo is crazy, and Tokyo, like Japan itself, is full of car enthusiasts, no matter their buying power. Those guys are really into cars, that’s for sure. I don’t speak Japanese and it took me some time to gather information and plan the whole thing, so here is what I advise you to do if you’re really into cars. Here is an itinerary for 3 days in Tokyo with a sports car.
3 Days in Tokyo: Day 1
Time for you to recover from the jetlag and digest the cultural shock! You may have realized this city is a little bit bigger than everything else in the world basically… I headed to a capsule hotel, you must try at least once, part of the Japanese experience.
- Check out this capsule hotel in Shinjuku: インターネットカフェ Booth Net Cafe & Capsule
Then, take a metro to Shibuya crossing and start your walking tour:
- Bugatti flagship store: The spot one of the only Chiron in the world right now .
- Rosso Scuderia Showroom: Ferrari store with the whole 2017 Ferrari range.
- BINGO Sports: This is the very best you can find in town, according to me one of the top 3 best garages I have seen with Al Ain Motors in Dubai and the Ralph Lauren Collection in New York. These cars scarcity goes from uniqueness to a few dozen, worldwide. Just unbelievable! The 8 cars I saw that day worth a bit more than 15 million USD. It also happen to be the official and unique Pagani retailer in Japan.
- Pug Collection: if you still have time, because it is a bit further, you will see there most of the moderns Italians, German and American sport cars.
Tip: if you are like me who doesn’t speak Japanese at all, please download the offline Google Translate package English – Japanese! Japanese are quite bad in English.
3 Days in Tokyo: Day 2
Wake up early, this is going to be an intense day! You must rent a car to go around Tokyo, toward the famous Mount Fuji. Time to make a choice:
- Option A: the reasonable one, you rent a random small, cheap, fuel efficient and boring Japanese car, around 60€ per 24 hours.
- Option B: the non-reasonable one, the one you might end up screaming with, for good reasons of course, you rent a local sport car, 200hp, 4 cylinder boxter turbo, light, dual clutch gearbox with sequential mode, a Toyota GT86 to be precise, 140€ per 24hours. Your call!
I let you guess which one I chose… No matter your choice, the best value for money car rental company I found is Toyota Rental.
Trevellers Tip: International Driving License Warning
Japan is the only country I know that does not recognize my international driving license, Geneva Convention 1968, so they didn’t accept it. They want an International Driving License Geneva Convention 1949 (don’t ask me why), which of course, I didn’t have. Luckily, I hold a French driving license which, along with Swiss, German, Belgian, Slovenian, Monegasque and Taiwanese ones, is accepted by the Japanese authorities. However, you must have an official certified translation of it in Japanese, from the JAF (Japan Automobile Federation).
It is located near Toyota Rental and it will cost you around 20 USD and 2 hours. If you’re not from those country, you must apply in advance for a Geneva Convention 1949 driving license in your country.
Tip: Book your car a few days in advance, as far as I know Toyota Rental is the only company renting sport cars for a decent price, especially for people under 25 like me.
Time to start the journey to the most famous and stunning Japanese roads
- Doshi: A small charming Japanese ski resort where you’re now starting to climb the Japanese Alps.
- Mikuni Pass: Beautiful mountain pass with stunning view at Mount Fuji, perfect asphalt and no much cars, you can start playing a bit with your GT86 !
- Fuji International Speedway: the most famous racetrack in Japan, host of the Japan Formula One race, Super GT Championship and many others. You can go in and talk with drivers (about 8 USD). If you’re lucky enough, there will be a special event.
- Fuji Subaru Line: famous for insane drifts and hill climb, that’s the highest way to Mount Fuji, the view is once again stunning.
- Head to Fuji City, and rest for the night. I advise you the Natsubi Mt Fuji Hostel, Japanese style (paper doors and walls, futuristic showers, etc.), staff is amazing and fluent in English
It’s about 250km total and 5 hours drive, with mountain roads and stops, make sure make sure to have enough time.
Trevellers Tip: Download a proper offline GPS app, to drive around Tokyo, like Maps.me Pay with your Visa Premier or Gold Master Card if you have one so that you are covered by the insurance. Plan to spend a few dozen USD for highways, they are VERY expensive, about 1 USD per 3km.
3 Days in Tokyo: Day 3
Heading to my favorite part of this itinerary, it’s time to hit Mazda Hakone Turnpikes (MAZDAターンパイク箱根料金所).
Like the Subaru one, it is famous for its insane drift races, road is wide, asphalt is great, speed limits are “optional”, it’s open 24/7 and it costs you 720 JPY (about 7 USD) per way. I woke up very early, 5am, to be there at 6:30am for sunrise on the Pacific, after a time attack till the top, reaching almost 200kph a couple of times. That was fantastic!
Time to go back to Tokyo as you have a 24h rental. On the way back, make sure to stop in Yokohama harbor, also famous for drift. I saw a couple of hardcore Japanese cars, like Supra and GTR. Once you have given back your toy, at night, go to Akihabara, the “electric town”. It is known for its videogames rooms, maids cafés, but also a nice place to spot insane local cars.
Trevellers Tip: If you stay for a week in Tokyo, check out the weather and make sure to go when weather is perfect, you must enjoy the view and have a dry road if you want to have fun, otherwise the experience won’t be that intense…
On a general basis, just walk around Tokyo and you will be surprised by what you see. Japanese are authentic car enthusiasts! One last thing, you must be a bit reckless, be ready to sign a lot of documents 100% in Japanese for the car, as they don’t have anything in English. Just trust them…
Have fun, and drive carefully 😉
Travelling expensively has changed me, even shaped me in a way. Today, I am very keen to share this experience with people, from all backgrounds: people willing to start travelling, or doing it even more often, wiser or in a more sustainable way. I have received more help, friendships and kindness that I would have expected. For me, this series is a way for me to give back, to help people in return, to inspire beginners.